Honestly, I’m sick of hearing about the Government Shutdown. Republicans hate Obamacare, Democrats are hating the Republican’s taking the Government “hostage”. I’m not here to point out who’s right or wrong. I’m more interested in why this is happening.
That’s when I came across this amazing article: This Government Shutdown Won’t Be Our Last. The article goes on to compare the current situation with past empires and manages to identify a pattern. This is an excerpt quoted in the article from Lieutenant Colonel Greg Mosser’s US Army War College Master Thesis from 2009:
Nations that reach global supremacy have economies that were built upon years and years of positive forces, all cumulatively pushing to a crescendo that is powerful and resilient. Once at the pinnacle, however, a nation’s attitudes and collective values often change and slowly dampen the powerful economic force that propelled it to its state. These same attitudes and values often result in behaviors that enable another nation to build its economy to one of global superiority. With slight variations on the precise factors, the cycle perpetuates throughout history.
Nations that grow to dominance have repeatedly failed to slow their spending as they reach a plateau, leading to collapse through financial meltdowns. In 60 BC, Statesman Cato filibustered deals to get what he wanted in a government budget negotiation (Rome was having financial problems at this time too). In the 16th century Renaissance Spain, the Hapsburg empire grew so large, they declared bankruptcy 4 times. The Ottoman Empire too, has serious budget problems as it neared it’s end.
Basically, as nations grow larger, they spend more to maintain it. Individuals who have gained political power often do so by promising many things to many people. This leads to a culture of overspending, not caused by the government itself, but by the disparate motives of individuals in the government.
Of course this argument has it’s flaws (as you can read in the comments of the linked article), I think it bring up very good point. We need to spend less, just look at our government deficit over the last 33 years:
The first step to change is measuring (collecting data), and the next is to understand it. My favorite way of getting an understanding of complicated problems is interactive infographics!
Start by checking out Washington Post’s Charting the Change in 2013 Federal Budget, you can click on any of the boxes to see historical changes over time.
Then, check out these two infographics that breakdown the 2014 budget proposals: